The Anonymous Widower

‘Spirit of Innovation’ Stakes Claim To Be The World’s Fastest All-Electric Vehicle

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site.

This is the first paragraph.

We believe our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, setting three new world records. We have submitted data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, according to our data. We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future.

Rolls-Royce also claim that the maximum speed achieved of 387.4 mph make it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

To put that speed into perspective, it is faster than a Mark V Spitfire, which was powered by a legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. These aircraft were powered by a Merlin 45 engine that generated 1074kW.

By comparison the Spirit of Innovation has a maximum power of just 400 kW.

Why Do It?

This paragraph from the press release gives an explanation.

As well as a stunning technical achievement, the project and world record runs provided important data for our future electric power and propulsion systems for all-electric urban air mobility and hybrid-electric commuter aircraft. The characteristics that ‘air-taxis’ require from batteries, for instance, are very similar to what was developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’.

I’ll go with that, as Rolls-Royce seem to be associated with several electric aviation projects.

But I can’t help feeling that there are parallels with the 1930s, when Supermarine and Rolls-Royce teamed up to produce the Supermarine S 6B, that won the Schneider Trophy outright in 1931. It is generally accepted that the knowledge gained at the time helped to design the Spitfire and the Merlin engine.

November 23, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. Has aeronautical engineering and the advent of CFD moved us on since 1940.

    Comment by fammorris | November 23, 2021 | Reply

  2. Aerodynamics have improved dramatically, mainly driven by Airbus, who hoovered up all the expertise from de Havilland, who were the wing builders supreme.

    It does also look that Bombardier and Hitachi have or are applying modern aerodynamics to their trains.

    Have you been on a platform when an Aventra goes by? They are very quiet, which probably means good aerodynamic design.

    Comment by AnonW | November 23, 2021 | Reply

    • All train builders are employing computational aerodynamic design techniques not only to their vehicles’ shape and body construction but also to reduce the flow separation around the bogies and pantographs as well as employing Statistical Energy Analysis software to deliver reliable acoustic predictions.
      At this point it occurs to me that both battery and fuel cell power could eventually render OHL and pantographs redundant and with it further aerodynamic benefits.
      About the only people who don’t currently hold such techniques as central to their philosophy are perhaps manufacturers of heavy freight haulage locos – companies like Wabco (formerly General Electric) and Caterpillar owned Progress Rail (previously EMD), but who knows that could change.

      Comment by fammorris | November 23, 2021 | Reply

      • A few years ago, I read a Network Rail report about pantograph noise. I can see this being a factor in deciding to remove electrification from some branch lines and use battery power.

        Comment by AnonW | November 23, 2021

  3. Spitfire was made from aluminum not modern materials such as carbon fibre composites and not by bonding and 3d printing, i saw in a tv documentary a 3d printed airliners seat that is 25% lighter.

    Comment by jason leahy | November 25, 2021 | Reply

  4. Never underestimate 3D printing. Some of the medical developments are awesome.

    Comment by AnonW | November 25, 2021 | Reply

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